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English Socialist Party logo
Emmanuel Goldstein (defected)
"Big Brother is Watching You"|
"Proles and Animals are free"
"War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength"
"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past"
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The English Socialist Party, better known as Ingsoc (Newspeak for English Socialism), is the fictional political party of the totalitarian government of Oceania in George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Oceania appears to have emerged as a formal political union of the United States and the countries of the British Commonwealth, which later annexed the remainder of the Americas and all of Southern Africa. Big Brother and Emmanuel Goldstein led the Party to power in Oceania after a revolution of some kind. After the Party achieved control of Oceania, Ingsoc became the official governing ideology and other political beliefs were increasingly marginalized. Goldstein and Big Brother later became enemies and differed in their interpretation of Ingsoc. Goldstein was eventually branded a criminal and was used as a symbol of treachery and sedition by the party.
As political philosophy
The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein describes the Party's ideology as an oligarchical collective which "rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it does so in the name of Socialism". It is noteworthy that in the terms of the book this ideology would be a form of doublethink.
Big Brother personifies the Inner Party as the ubiquitous face constantly depicted in posters and the telescreen. Big Brother is constantly watching and Ingsoc demands the complete submission (mental, moral and physical) of the people and will torture to achieve it (see Room 101). Ingsoc is a masterfully complex system of psychological control that compels confession to imagined crimes and the forgetting of rebellious thought in order to love Big Brother and the Party over oneself. The purpose of Ingsoc is political control and power per se. Glibly, O'Brien explains to Smith:
The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.
As metaphysical pseudophilosophy
In the third part of Nineteen Eighty-Four, Ingsoc presents a solipsist and nihilistic view that the universe and all knowledge, meaning and value exists only in the collective mind of the Party. Reality is what the Party says and is the justification for its historical revisionism (compare consensus reality). With doublethink, the people believe what they otherwise know is false. In believing the revised (new) past, the new past is what was, hence "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past". The Ministry of Love (MiniLuv), via brainwashing and torture; and the Ministry of Truth (MiniTrue), with propaganda, ensure that perpetual infallibility of the Party is instilled in the mind of each Oceanian. The person exists only as part of the collective, therefore for the collective nothing exists beyond the goodness of the Party and the evil of other nations and the Party's power.
In the year 1984, Ingsoc divides Oceanian society into three social classes, the Inner Party, the Outer Party and the Proles.
The Inner Party
The Inner Party members make policy, influence decisions and govern. They are known as the Party and constitute the upper class of Oceanian society. Among their upper-class privileges is the ability to shut down their telescreens if they feel like it. However, this may be a lie by O'Brien as in any case it is only temporary and no Inner Party member has been known to disable the telescreen for more than 30 minutes. They live in spacious, comfortable homes, have good food and drink, personal servants and speedy transportation such as personal helicopters and automobiles (while Outer Party members and Proles are banned from owning any vehicles) and no Outer Party member or Prole may enter an Inner Party neighbourhood without a good pretext.
Despite their insulation and overt privileges, Inner Party members are not exempt from the brutal restriction of thought and behaviour imposed on all Party members, even while lies and propaganda apparently originate from their own ranks. As in the example of the characters Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford, non-conformant members of the Inner Party can be condemned, tortured and erased from memory as any other individual. Inner Party members make up less than 2% of the population of Oceania. Through his creation and explanation of Newspeak, Orwell warns the reader that a government that creates the language and mandates how it is used can control the minds of its citizens.
The Outer Party
The Outer Party members work the state's administrative jobs, consisting of the educated workers who are responsible for the direct implementation of the Party's policies while having absolutely no voice in their formulation. They are an artificial middle class, essential to the success of the Party, but who are tolerated only in severely hostile conditions. Outer Party members are allowed "no vices other than cigarettes and Victory Gin" and they are the citizens most spied upon via telescreens and surveillance. This is because according to history the middle class is the most dangerous as they are the ones whose combination of intellectual ability with limited power means they are most likely to incite revolution against the ruling class. They are therefore expected to sustain a continuous, patriotic frenzy for the Party, blindly accepting every order from remote superiors all while simultaneously being condemned to live in rundown neighbourhoods, use crowded subways as transportation (only Inner Party members are allowed to have vehicles) and to persist in an ongoing state of near starvation with meager rations of poor food and drink. Outer Party members are also expected to abstain completely from sex other than for strictly procreative purposes within marriage since to allow sex in any less restrictive forms would permit self-actualization, individual intimacy and expenditure of personal energy to non-official purposes, all of which are completely antithetical to the Party's agenda.
The Proles (proletariat) are the lower class of workers, performing the bulk of manual labour required in Oceania. They live in the poorest conditions, but they may be considered more fortunate than the Outer Party members as they are under less surveillance. The Party keeps them happy and sedates them with alcohol, gambling, sport, sexual promiscuity and prolefeed (fabricated books and pornography). They are kept uneducated and rendered incapable of gaining any sophisticated view of their own lives or of society, and are therefore considered harmless, lacking any greater will or consciousness than would be typically ascribed to animals. The Proles live in poor yet relatively free conditions. They are not required to install telescreens in their homes (since they cannot even afford one). A few undercover agents of the Thought Police do work as Proles to mark down and eliminate any Prole individuals deemed capable of becoming dangerous. Proles make up 85% of Oceania's population.
Although the social classes of Oceania interact little, the protagonist Winston Smith attends an evening at the cinema, where Proles and members of the Outer and Inner Party view the same film program. He visits a Proles pub without attracting notice (or so he thinks). He also visits the flat of Inner Party man O'Brien on the pretext of borrowing the newest edition of the Newspeak dictionary. Ingsoc's propaganda proclaims its egalitarianism, yet the Proles and (some) members of the Outer Party are hideously exploited and live in poverty while the ruling elite, the Inner Party, work little and live well and comfortably, yet food and consumer goods are scarcer and more expensive than under capitalism. It is suggested that this is not a result of a deficit of actual produce, but rather a surplus: this surplus is more than taken up by constant warfare between Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. If the Party chose, all its people could live in luxury, but they instead choose to lower the quality of living as it is important that the lower classes remain stupefied by poverty and the struggle for mere survival since if they were to become too comfortable, they might learn to think for themselves and rebel against the Party.
Other political ideologies in Nineteen Eighty-Four
Eurasia and Eastasia are the other two ideologically-formed and ruled superstates that resemble Oceania. Neo-Bolshevism is the ideology of Eurasia, Soviet-conquered Europe. Death Worship is described as the translation of the Chinese name for the ideology of Eastasia, but better rendered as Obliteration of the Self. The ruling oligarchies of the three superstates are aware that their ideologies are philosophically indistinguishable, a fact kept from and denied by their populaces via doublethink. Said denial is practised in each state and the mutual vilification of the enemy state permits perpetual war among them. Without said war, the lower classes would have no focus for the hatred of and triumph over the enemy with which their Inner parties dominate them and find excuses for their atrocities.
How Ingsoc gained control of the British Empire and the Americas in a historically short period is not established. In his book, Goldstein says that Oceania was created "with the absorption of [...] the British Empire by the United States" and may have occurred in the aftermath of the nuclear war of the 1950s also referred to in the book. As Goldstein's book itself may have been written by the Party, it may be subject to the same historical revisionism as the Party's other propaganda and so an unreliable source of information. When Winston is being tortured by O'Brien in the Ministry of Love, he asks if "the book" is true. O'Brien replies: "As description, yes. The program it sets forth [...] is nonsense".